The toxic straight male virus

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“Sir, there is another individual here to see you about Avalon. Claims his…um apparatus is in working order” Jeffrey, my butler, announced as he placed my nightcap on the coffee table.

I paused the TV for the first time that day. I was watching a rerun of one of the seasons of my TV show “Style fails for the straight males’ from what seemed like a lifetime ago. I liked this particular episode, I had done a brilliant makeover for a mid-west truck driver if I do say so myself. And he had had the audacity to tell me Pocket squares were not a necessity in his line of work. It was memories like these that made me think that perhaps the epidemic was justified. I am sure this truck driver was amongst the first wave of victims claimed by the virus.

“Ehm…ehm..” Jeffery cleared his throat. Being a man good old Jeff had also fallen victim to the TSM virus, but had somehow managed to maintain his will to clean up and look after me, which was all for the best. But it did make one wonder which way the butler swung in such matters, not that that was a question that could be discussed obviously. I had simply placed him in that esoteric basket of asexuality, shuddered at the thought of it and moved on. Read more

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Control experiment

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She wakes up on a small mound of hay. She notices she is naked. Startled, she searches for her clothes. She is alone for now, in a small room.

She looks around, it is a strange room, the walls all look like they were moulded from one piece of a translucent plastic material. The ceiling looks like a lid, made from the same material. She walks around the room slowly with caution. The room is flooded in light, though she can’t see where it is coming from.  Just beside her hay, there is a large glass bottle hanging on the wall. It has a clear liquid in it, that can be sucked out of it from a steel dropper. Besides​ the bottle is a metal mesh cylinder, it is filled with a jelly-like substance, that is almost oozing out of the mesh, it has a strong artificial fruit smell, raspberry she guesses, she hates raspberries.

She walks to the other end of the plastic room. She can reach the other end in ten steps. She can cover the width of the room in five. She stifles a scream, though she doubts if anyone would hear her scream or care. No, she must not scream because she doesn’t want to give into the panic, she will not acknowledge the smallness of the space. On the other side is a small treadmill, it is built into the floor of the room. Beside it is a small steel commode. Everything is vigorously clean, sterile. She goes around the room several times, she touches everything, again and again, making sure it is solid. She keeps going around the room as if she walked long enough there would be more of it. After what seems like hours there isn’t any more of the room. She feels her breathing hasten, her blood is throbbing against her temple, her heart is beating in her ears, she cannot hold her panic anymore. “I am trapped,” she says to herself, “I am trapped…” as she runs around faster and faster she touches the hay, then the water bottle, then the treadmill, then the commode. Her vision blurs, hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. She wants to stop. Hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. This is making space seem smaller. Hay, bottle, treadmill, commode. She cannot stop. She slams against a wall and falls into the hay. Read more

The blastoma of our beliefs

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It all started around the time of Ganesh Chaturthi, which had always been the family’s favorite festival. They had all put in extra efforts to make this year’s festivities happier, grander, louder as it would be Lakshmamma’s last festival. It seemed wrong to be celebrating a festival for that reason, but it seemed worse not be celebrating it either. Lakshmamma in the innocence of what ailed her assumed that her family was indeed very happy in life and were making a gesture of gratitude to the gods.  She was thrilled to see the large Ganesha statue that had been brought for the year’s festivities. She helped as well as she could with cleaning the house and preparing the several sweets and savories. Her excitement was contagious, her happiness palpable.

It started exactly during the Mangala harathi. The whole family was gathered around the elaborately dressed statue, chanting the arati and as it rose in a crescendo Lakshmamma’s eyes widened, there was a brilliant halo emanating from the statue as the words of the Arati transformed into the brilliance of the diety’s form.  The elephant god looked at her, his all-knowing eyes benevolent, his smile a personification of peace, his trunk waved at her and her family. Lakshmamma was speechless, she couldn’t believe her eyes, the gods had blessed her and her family. She swooned seeming to achieve nirvana on the spot. As she swooned a red balloon that was part of the decorations exploded and she distinctly heard the triumphant trumpet of an elephant in it.  “Madhava! Did you hear that? The gods have blessed us! We are all saved, blessed we have been blessed! Lakshmamma exclaimed as she swayed and collapsed in the waiting arms of her daughter-in-law. Read more

You are late

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“Ah, why am I late? Well, in fact, there is a very interesting story behind that. But, do you think we have the time of that now? Oh, we do, is it? We have time for a long story, but we don’t have time for me being late by a few minutes, is it? Ok, I see how it is. Well fine, I will tell you the story.

Long, long ago before there was anything, Father time had just begun seeing Mother space. They had decided to go on a date that day. This was before they had moved in together and Father time still lived at his own place. Father time was very different then, not the busy, bossy, no-fun time we know now. He was young and relaxed. He had flowing black hair that needed a lot of care to style. And so by the time he took a nice long shower, styled his hair, picked out his outfit, and reached the venue of their date Mother space had been waiting for what seemed a very long time to her.

“You are late!” She shouted when she saw Father time. Read more

#celestialmetoo

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It was a moody Bangalore evening that could not decide if it felt too hot or too cold. I unzipped my jacket for the tenth time that evening as I approached the bar. I checked the location of my meeting again, it was supposed to be this bar. Maybe there was some mistake, I couldn’t imagine meeting my source in such a shady place. It wouldn’t be safe for her, I wasn’t even sure if it was safe for me.

“I am near the location, where are you?” I messaged her.

“I can see you. Please come inside…” her reply was prompt. I looked up at the windows of the bar lit with a dramatic blue colour, I couldn’t see anyone.

The loud music flowing out of the bar made my heart flutter and my groin thump.

Well, I did desperately need a story for this week. If nothing else I could write about my own assault in this place. Read more

Halos and horns

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Kabir tossed onto his side and tried hard to ignore the desperate knocking on his window. When it did not go away even after several minutes he opened his eyes to see a cupid flapping his tiny wings hard while he carried a large hamper in one hand and was tapping the window with another. Kabir groaned and opened the window, “Thank you for shopping with us…” the Cupid tried to say in a cheery voice but had to stop to catch his breath, “please rate me!” He placed the hamper on the windowsill, pulled out his mobile from his tiny diaper like pants, rated Kabir five stars and flew away. Kabir closed his eyes, but it was no use the roar of traffic from the street would not let him sleep.

He looked at the hamper, and flared his nostrils, “You are wonderful, but you do stink sweetheart. Take a shower and I promise you will remember tonight. S.” He threw the hamper in the direction of the bathroom.  It was one thing to receive a hamper from his girlfriend, it was another thing when she was a demon. And she always ended up charging it to his own account! Well, was she a demon?

Technically she was a Nagin, but he was not sure where she fits in in the new social order. She was not one of the divines for sure. He couldn’t stand them anyways: Angels, Elves, Devas or Gandharvas…pompous asses all of them. Still, it would do him well to know his girlfriend’s social standing, whether she was classified as an Asura or a Danava or a demon or if the Nagas had a separate class of their own. Right now all he knew was she definitely classified as a hot ass.

Kabir yawned and stretched in front of the window as a minor demon flew by carrying a small packet, it’s eyes glinting red. He leaned on the window sill and looked at the traffic. He saw a few orcs marching to the armour manufacturing factory downtown. He should get his armour checked soon, never knew when he would need it. A small delegation of Angels flew by singing hymns, Kabir closed his eyes and listened to them, it was a guilty pleasure he wouldn’t admit to even under a necromancer’s spell. A golden chariot weaved its way through the traffic glinting like a new dime, the Deva at its helm unheeding if he ran over anyone. Kabir watched a few asura teenagers flip him off. A minor demon slinked closer to them and flipped the Deva off, and tried to sell them something. It had been two years since the quantum wardrobe malfunction had ripped the celestial fabric apart and all the dimensions of the multiverse could suddenly see through each other’s skins. Everything had changed all of a sudden and then everything was the same again. Kabir scratched his ass as he walked to his bathroom. Read more

Free magazine of the month

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Hello everyone,
This issue of the write club magazine is currently free on Amazon. It has amazing stories by great upcoming writers.

Do grab a copy here: http://amzn.in/d/1ULoMYh

and let us know what you think of our work.

For reading more of our work, and even to contribute yours, do visit our website https://writeclub.in
My story in the magazine is titled ‘The Sporulation of Sarpanch Sam’. It is a science fiction story in which strange spores have wiped out most of the human population. These spores have fused with the genomes of the remaining humans to form a new species of photosynthetic humans who learn to live in harmony with nature.
Please read the story and let me know what you think of it.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

As Sam saw his reflection in the mirror he was sure that he would be dead soon. It had been long since he had last thought of death and this time he found himself strangely content at the idea of it like he was reaching the end of a good story. The sun was rising and it highlighted the pinkness of his skin. It was the first time since he had been infected half a century ago that he was seeing his skin again. He had lost most of the fungal mycelium covering his skin. Even his hair was losing its green color and becoming black, he had forgotten how black his hair had been. There was no denying it anymore, the fungal part of his genome had made its decision and he was going to sporulate soon. He turned around to check his back and it was smooth as humans! Just a week ago it had been covered in what looked like a forest of thin and long umbrella-like trees.

He allowed himself a bit of nostalgia, the occasion called for it he thought. His life had changed more than fifty years ago when he had first heard of the outbreak of the fungal infection. It had been referred to as ‘the mycelium’ as if it were a mob family. But Sam, like a lot of other people, had not taken it seriously, it was a fungal infection after all, how dangerous could it be? But it had proven to be worse than the black plague, millions of people and even more animals were dead in weeks. It was a worldwide panic and soon the whole globe seemed to be covered in mold, like it were a week-old piece of bread. The fungal spores were everywhere, in the air, the water, and the soil, there was no way of escaping them. The spores even thrived in the most common soaps and disinfectants. Most of the cities and even several countries were dead in a matter of months, but the mycelium continued to thrive.

He had lost all of his family and friends to the fungal spores but he remembered his dog the most clearly. One day the dog had come back with a patch of green on her nose. He had thought that it was probably grass that she had rolled in. By the morning, the dog had been entirely covered in a web of white and green strands as if someone had covered her with noodles as a prank. There was nothing they could do, but drench her in a ton of disinfectant and drag her as far away from home as they could. But that same evening his grandmother also caught the spores. She took several baths in disinfectant and all the anti-fungal medicines she could get her hands on, and it seemed to slow the infection by a few minutes at best. When she knew she was beyond rescue she just decided to walk away and leave her loved ones alone. Of course, none of them would agree to it and hence they all followed her, walking a few feet behind her not knowing where they were going.

By the end of the second day, grandmother had been completely covered in the mycelium and refused to eat anything as she was not hungry. By the fourth day, she looked more like a green fluffy stuffed toy and less like a human. That day, when they woke up, she was gone. They searched long and hard for her before realizing that she had sporulated and there was nothing left of her. She had swollen like a ripe pod, and she made a balloon-like popping noise and burst open releasing millions of tiny pollen-like spores, that scattered in all directions and hung around them. By then both his parents had also grown green patches on them.

In a week he had lost everyone he cared for in a cloud of spores, in what seemed like a  weird pilgrimage where everyone literally seemed to become one with everything. By the end of the week, he did not doubt that he would be infected, he just wished that it had happened before everyone else.